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GRETZKY COULD REACH MILESTONE IN EDMONTON

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Wayne Gretzky left Edmonton in tears 14 months ago. He returns Sunday for what may be one of the crowning moments of his career.

Gretzky, playing just his 11th NHL season, needs one point to tie Gordie Howe's record of 1,850 career points. Gretzky's next chance to get it is Sunday, when the Los Angeles Kings play the Oilers in the Northlands Coliseum.Gretzky got three assists Friday night as the Kings beat the Vancouver Canucks 6-5. He set up Steve Kasper's game-winner and, as usual, was the most dominant player on the ice. Now he can break the record before the fans who saw him lead Edmonton to four Stanley Cup titles in nine seasons.

"If there's any place other than LA I want to do it, obviously it's Edmonton," Gretzky said. "I'll enjoy doing it in Edmonton, if I'm fortunate enough to do it Sunday."

Edmonton traded its hero to the Kings on Aug. 9, 1988. Canada was so shaken that some legislators demanded a Parliamentary inquiry. Now those fans may get to see their hero displace another generation's star.

"If it was, pardon the expression, some clown doing it, it would have bothered me," Howe said. "But not Wayne."

Howe has been following the Kings, waiting for the historic goal.

"If I thought it was going to happen tonight," he said Friday, "I would have worn a suit."

Gretzky's father also didn't think it would happen Friday. He didn't even go to the game.

"I was trying to cross him up," Gretzky said, breaking into a smile.

Gretzky's third assist Friday night led directly to the winning goal. He came on the ice with 30 seconds left, took a pass from Larry Robinson and left it for Steve Kasper, who beat goaltender Kirk McLean with one second left.

"I saw Steve coming behind me and I just left it for him, and he put it between his legs," Gretzky said. "I think there was eight seconds left when Larry pushed the puck to me. There was time for the play."

Kings coach Tom Webster used Gretzky a lot. He sent him out as Kasper's wing in the final 30 seconds, just after he had completed a two-minute shift at center.

"There was a chance to get him out near the end of the period," Webster said.

"I've seen Greztky do this many times late in a game," Canucks coach Bob McCammon said. "He made a great play to draw people out of position."